Somali govt replaces top security officials

AP News
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Posted: Dec 06, 2009 3:19 PM

The Somali government replaced its police and army chiefs Sunday ahead of a planned military offensive, the Somali information minister said.

The reshuffle came as fresh clashes between insurgents and government forces in the ruined capital of Mogadishu killed six people, including a mother and two young children.

Government spokesman Abdi Haji Gobdoon announced that former police commander Abdi Hassan Awale was being replaced by Major General Ali Mohamed Hasan and former army chief Gen. Yusuf Hussein Dhumal was replaced by Lieutenant General Mohamed Gele Kahiye.

Gobdoon said the two had failed to restore security to Somalia and the new appointments were part of a plan to strengthen the security institutions ahead of a military operation. His comments marked the first public confirmation of a planned military push against the insurgents.

National security minister Abdulahi Mohamed Ali said, "This is a part of a national plan to activate the army and the security institutions ahead of intended government military operations to restore law and order."

The government currently barely controls a few blocks of the capital with the help of a 5,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force.

Shelling in the capital on Sunday killed six people, said businessman Abdulle Dahir, including a woman and her six-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.

Last Thursday a suicide bomber killed 24 people in the capital.

Somalia has not had a functioning government for more than 18 years. The government is fighting an Islamist insurgency but neither side is united.